Bombay Progressives of Modern Indian Art
During the major part of 1930 and 1940s, many communist groups were active in promoting the cultural flair in India. Along with writers and theatre professionals, visual artists too joined hands in order to support modern art in India. This group worked under the banner of "progressive" and identified with Marxism. Francis Newton Souza, M.F. Husain and others, in Mumbai in 1947, formed the Progressive Artists' Group.
The group had leftist leaning and rejected the Bengal School of Arts and in turn welcomed the practises of international modern art. With time, Souza gained international acclaim for his erotic and religious paintings that were informed by a variety of styles, including Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism and Primitivism.
Hussian also worked with many international painting styles. He was exposed to various European artists like Emil Nolde and Oskar Kokoschka through the Progressive Artists' Group. However, his work has successfully retained traces of local culture and traditions. He has had ongoing interest for Indian cinema. Firstly, Husain supported himself as an artist by painting cinema billboards; more recently, he has directed films and depicted contemporary film stars in his paintings.
Living Traditions of Modern Indian Art
K. G. Subramanyan, born in the year1924, invented new style and traditions by mixing contemporary art with popular culture, and folk art with urban trends. He studied at Shantiniketan outside of Kolkata in Birbhum district, under meticulous guidance of Nandalal Bose. This school of art, set up by the poet Rabindranath Tagore, focused mainly on handicrafts and promoting Indian traditions and culture. Subramanyan passed on his expertise and wisdom of his art to young and new generation of artists. His influence and reach extended far and wide to various pupil of art.
Abstraction, Minimalism, and Figurative Painting are all a part of modern Indian paintings. Looking at works of most of Indian painters in the modern period it is indeed hard to differentiate their imagery from art made in other parts of the world. During the British rule, there were Western Influences that started to make an impact on Indian art. Some artists inculcated a typical style that used the western ideas of composition, perception and realism to demonstrate Indian themes. Other painters like Jamini Roy, consciously drew inspiration from folk art. By the time India gained independence in the year 1947, there were several schools in India that provided access to modern ideas and techniques. Galleries were set to exhibit the paintings of these artists. Modern Indian art typically shows the influence of western style of art, which are very often inspired by Indian themes and images. Important artists are starting to gain international fame, initially among Indian Diaspora but later among non-Indians painting lovers as well.
Shortly after India achieved independence in 1947, the Progressive Group set up new ways to express India in the post-colonial period. The founders were six established artists like K. H. Ara, S. K. Bakre, H. A. Gade, M.F. Hussain, S.H. Raza and Francis Newton Souza, though the group was dissolved in 1956, it was overwhelmingly prominent in changing the idiom of Indian art. All major names in the artistic Diaspora were associated with the group. Among them, some who are still well known today are Bal Chabda, Manishi Dey, Mukul Dey, Ram Kumar, V. S. Gaitonde, Tyeb Mehta, and Akbar Padamsee. Other popular painters like Jahar Dasgupta, Prokash Karmakar, Narayanan Ramachandran, and Bijon Choudhuri helped enrich Indian art culture in India as well. These people are now icons of modern Indian paintings.
Many critics have commented that contemporary Indian painting as forbidding territory, if not forbidden. One of the best possible ways to deal with the entire thing is however is to deal with the entire thing squarely. All that is necessary is will, perseverance and reasonable constant exposure or confrontation. Contemporary Indian painting has certainly travelled a long way since the days of Abanindranath Tagore, Raja Ravi Vermaand his followers and even Amrita Shergil. Largely, the pattern followed by every artist of note began with one kind of representational or figurative art or the other tinged with impressionism, expressionism or post-expressionism.
Photography of Modern Indian Art
Ebrahim Alkazi is popular for his theatrical mastery, visual eye and deep interest in the relationship between theatre and art. He has been awarded with "Living Treasures of Bombay Award". This award was in recognition and appreciation of his contribution and involvement with the cultural life of the city.
Director of the Art Heritage Gallery at Triveni Kala Sangam, he was one of the first supporters of artists such as M.F. Hussain. Presently Alkazi, based in New York City, has one of the leading private collections of Sepia International and historical photographs.
Raghubir Singh, during his brief life, (1942-1999), published more than twelve books dealing with colour photographs, depicting various regions of India. Books written by Singh are usually dedicated to a geographical region or area such as Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, and Mumbai, and frame contemporary India within a historical and legendary context. Colour is an essential tool in his candid images of everyday life.